Product name: Auro Fitness
Where to buy: www.aurofit.co
Gyms may be open but there are plenty of us who don’t feel comfortable returning to indoor exercise just yet. And even if you are back in the gym, there are new rules and regulations that limit your ability to drop in on a whim.
With that in mind, many of us are exercising at home, using our own living rooms, back gardens and local parks to get our daily activity in.
Smartphones have helped the cause greatly. There are so many exercise apps available now, covering all kinds of exercise. But it’s difficult to know which one to choose.
Auro is an app that covers most of the bases. It covers a variety of class types, and instead of relying on video, which effectively tethers you to a screen, it’s audio only, so you can take it out on the move with you. The app acts as a personal trainer in your ear, giving you a stream of instructions as you work your way through the programme.
There are plenty of classes available on the system, with a good variety – it covers walking and running plans, rowing, treadmill exercise sessions, strength classes for both body weight and equipment, spin classes and cross-trainer sessions. You can also take Pilates sessions, or do some yoga and stretches or meditation. Basically, there is something for everyone.
Within those categories, there are individual classes to take, or you can opt for one the Auro training plans. These last between two to 12 weeks, and can help you train for a 10km, build your strength or start a destressing programme.
There are plenty of different trainers, too – 14 in total, each with their own expertise.
So when it comes to variety, Auro has it covered.
Getting set up is easy, with Auro asking for some basic information before you can set your goals and get cracking. You can choose to connect a tracker – the Apple Watch in this case – so you can monitor your heart rate and movement, but it’s not essential.
One of the better decisions about the app is you don’t need an internet connection to do the classes; you can download the classes and listen to them later on. That would be handy for travelling (when we can do that again) to foreign places, where internet access may either be spotty or more expensive for mobile access.
All this comes at a price, of course, with the premium version of the app that gives you access to more than 400 workouts costing €65.99 for the year, or €12.99 per month. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a huge cost compared with other exercise apps, but it has to be balanced with the lack of video, which can be useful for learning new exercises.
There is a free option, which gives you access to some of the content, but the majority is available only on preview until you sign up. Giving the preview in addition to the free content is a good move, so you don’t end up paying for a plan that it turns out isn’t really for you.
The classes have their own backing tracks, which are chosen by the app. For example, some of the walking classes are set to pop, running to hip-hop or dance music, and so on. For the most part, you have no choice over this, but it you have a Spotify account, you can link it up and let your own preferences take over. That’s the extent of it though; there is no Apple Music integration – a bit of a pain for Apple users who have committed to the system.
In terms of motivation, having the personal trainer constantly chatting in your ear certainly makes you work, but only to a certain point. If I’ve really had enough, I can simply take out the headphones and ignore the rest of the workout.
It’s easier to fool than the standard personal trainer too. If I decide to lie face down on the mat and have a five-minute rest instead of doing yet another round of burpees, the app doesn’t know any different. It just continues to burble encouraging words in my ear. A personal trainer, on the other hand, will encourage me to peel myself off the floor and keep going.
One more serious thing to be aware of is form. Fully qualified personal trainers watching you carry out an exercise can point out things you are doing that could lead to injury. An app is never going to be able to do that.
It’s not really intended to replace real-world personal trainers, though – and how many of us actually pay for a trainer to watch our every move at the gym?
The variety of classes is great, with something that should suit everyone. There’s even a few meditation classes thrown in for good measure. New workouts are added each month.
The fact that this is audio-only means you can go for a run and bring it with you; it’s also easier on your mobile data plan, and not so heavy on your phone battery.
The not so good
A lack of integration with Apple Music ties you into Spotify, unless you want to stick with the app’s music choice (and I really didn’t).
It’s also worth remembering this won’t completely replace real-world trainers. There is one thing an app can’t replace, and that is the expertise a personal trainer brings in terms of correcting your form to help prevent injury. So don’t overdo it.
The app is compatible with some fitness trackers, including the Apple Watch. It’s a bit hit and miss, though; it wouldn’t recognise my Wahoo Tickr X, for example, even when connected to my phone’s Bluetooth.
As far as exercise apps go, Auro has enough variety to keep things interesting. Just be wary of pushing yourself too far.